Last updated: February 19. 2013 4:43PM - 178 Views

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They were kids when they met, though they barely noticed each other at first.


It was the mid-1930s, and Edna Crane's family had bought a house one door down from Frank Maxwell's in Flint, Mich.


I don't think she knew I was even around, and I didn't notice her, either, Frank said, with a sly grin. He was more interested in playing with Edna's brother, Don in those days. But by the time I got to the ninth grade, that's about the time I was aware that Edna was around.


He was 14 years old with a head of thick, curly dark hair when he saved up a dollar, and mustered the nerve to ask her to see a movie — Boys Town, starring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney.


I was scared to death to ask her, he said.


He spent $0.80 on their movie tickets, and the pair stopped at a candy store afterward for a treat.


I spent the whole buck, he said. They turned out to be the best 100 pennies he'd ever spent.


That was the beginning. But I can tell you this, after that, I always wanted to spend time with her, Frank said.


Edna smiled, adding, I thought he was really cute when he was young. And I've loved him ever since. Well, I should say we've loved each other ever since.


And they have, through wartime, three babies, cancer, a stroke, the deaths of loved ones — through all the joys and heartbreak that come along with life.


At 88 and 89 years old, Edna and Frank Maxwell of Grand Blanc, Mich., looked back recently on 70 years of marriage, still loving each other. They were engaged right after high school graduation and married Oct. 10, 1942, at Edna's parents' house on Crosby Street in Flint.


One month after their wedding, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and served for three years. All that time, Edna wrote to him, called him, took the train to visit him whenever she could and worked to save money.


When the war was over and Frank came home, she'd saved $2,000 — a nice down payment for their first home.


We've had our share of setbacks, Frank said, but we've done pretty much everything together.


They even were admitted within a day of each other to Genesys Regional Medical Center in Grand Blanc.


Frank called 911 in late August, when he noticed something wasn't right with Edna. Her potassium levels had risen dangerously high.


The next day, he ended up in the emergency room, too. Frank had surgery to install a pacemaker and was staying one floor below Edna in the same hospital.


Everyone says, ‘You do everything together, do you have to go to the hospital together, too?' Edna said, chuckling.


They were discharged on the same day. Together, of course.


When Edna had a stroke in 1989, Frank had to help her learn to talk again, to read again. He took her to therapy four days a week.


On the fifth day, he took me to the beauty shop, said Edna. I didn't even know at the time where I was or that he took me there, but he did it because he knew I'd want to have my hair done.


Frank shrugged it off. We've both played nurse a lot in the last 70 years, he said, noting that he has had his own share of health problems, including prostate cancer and 13 surgeries since he retired from AC Spark Plug in 1984.


The only time we didn't take care of each other is when we were in the hospital, he said.


The two of them said that marital harmony is rooted in some very basic themes: love and forgiveness, respect and patience.


Through the years of parenting three daughters — Linda, Louise and Kathryn — they always backed up each other's decisions and never let the kids play one parent against the other.


The couple went out to dinner on their anniversary Oct. 10, just the two of them.


But their family — three children, seven grandchildren, six great-grandchildren along with friends — celebrated the couple's 70 years together at a big party the following weekend.


Edna had laid out a black jacket embroidered with blue flowers to wear to the party; Frank had picked it out and ordered it for her especially for the event.


It was the first time in his life he ever ordered clothes for me over the phone, and I liked it, Edna said.


And she had her hair done, of course.


It wasn't as flashy as their past anniversary trips to Paris or England, Alaska or Niagara Falls, but at this time in their lives, it was perfect. Just perfect.


 
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